Understanding, Embracing & Celebrating The Introverted Student

Understanding, Embracing & Celebrating The Introverted Student

Social, Emotional & Developmental Needs Of Introverts

With the ever-growing focus on the social, emotional, and developmental needs of our students, there is no better time than now to highlight the gifts of our introverted students. There is a social stigma, a host of myths, and a superficial blanket of beliefs about introverts.  It is time to uncover the myths, remove the superficial blanket, and embrace our social behavioral diversities.

Introverts & Extroverts Are Literally Wired Differently

According to various studies, and as stated by Dan Buettner in Thrive via Psychology Today, the brain of an introvert vs. an extrovert is simply wired differently, with a greater or less need for the dopamine chemical.  Our brains release dopamine when we experience something positive. It’s an automatic reward center that makes us feel good. Extroverts need more dopamine to feel an effect, whereas introverts have a low dopamine threshold. Extroverts thrive on dopamine.  Introverts don’t require a great deal of stimulation to feel rewarded, and when too much dopamine is triggered, an introvert will quickly feel tired, overwhelmed and even anxious.

The front part of an introvert’s brain is most active and stimulated by his or her own thoughts. Introverts enjoy quiet, solitary and/or small group activities such as reading, writing, painting and problem-solving. The back part of an extrovert’s brain are the most active. Extroverts are stimulated by the outside world. Extroverts thrive on noise, attending social events and large gatherings, throwing parties, and taking part in large group meetings. They are quick to speak, rather than listen quietly.

Common Introvert Myths

1. They are shy

2. They don’t like talking

3. They are stuck up

4. They don’t know how to relax or have a good time

5. They don’t like being around people

6. They don’t like to go out in public

7. They are weird/strange

8. They are boring

9. They are socially inept

10. They should change to ‘fit’ society’s expectations

How Teachers Can Work With Introverted Students

1. Give the introverted student the ability to learn and share in his or her own way.

2. Do not force group work; rather, let an introverted student choose his/her best path for optimal performance.

3. Share this gift with other students by showing them that it is okay to be on the quiet side (there is nothing wrong with being a bit quieter with one’s own thoughts and feelings).

4. Realize that every student will not be a ‘social butterfly,’ while displaying approval.

5. Don’t force the student to be a ‘people person’ or refer to him/her as socially challenged. There is nothing socially, emotionally, or developmentally wrong with an introverted student.

6. Provide them with the opportunities to explore and encourage their interests, in their own ways. For example, it is known that introverts love to write, rather than speak.

7. Celebrate the differences in behaviors within your class.

8. Give them space and time to grow. Let them find their own path within your classroom.

9. Respect who they are, show it, and mean it, always.

10. Don’t try and change an introvert, as this comes with great consequence. See them for who they are and embrace their uniqueness, projects and discoveries.

If we let our students be who they are as opposed to training them to be what society states is the “norm,” we will have many more fascinating discoveries, beautiful works of art, amazing problem-solvers, magical music, and we will be part of supporting real life game changers.

If you missed this video by Susan Cain, please take a few minutes, as it might just change your life:

Here is a fun quiz to find out if you are an introvert or extrovert: Who Am I?

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